Finally home, Glenwood Springs hockey falls to rival Aspen on Friday night
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
It was business as usual in front of a standard packed house as Glenwood Springs High School hockey held its home opener in a 2-1 loss to Aspen on Friday night.
The Demons and Skiers sold out 150 virtual tickets as the two rivals met for the first time this season at the Glenwood Springs Ice Rink as home fans chirped at the visitors — who didn’t hesitate to chirp back — and the glass around the circumference around the sheet got its share of pounding.
A tight contest turned out as it was meant to, following weeks of uncertainty around the status of the rink, not to mention a pandemic-wracked campaign a year ago.
“It feels great to be here,” Glenwood Springs head coach Tim Cota said. “This setting and the environment when you have Aspen in Glenwood is great. The atmosphere is always great here.”
A critical malfunction Nov. 14 in the rink’s cooling system caused a weeks-long closure. For the Demons — and fellow Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association — it resulted in grabbing ice slots whenever and wherever available for practices, from Grand Junction to Eagle to Aspen, sometimes starting as late as 10 p.m.
Everything from supply chain issues to warm weather to incertitude about the damage done to the system made the timeline for reopening the local rink, “indefinite,” the city said shortly after the incident. The home opener for the Demons was questionable.
As the players took road trips to and from practice, the value of their home ice came even more into focus. After a year in which no fans could attend, the prospect of an altered experience was unnerving.
“Nobody was allowed in the rink except for players,” senior Demons player Aiden Senn said while the team was practicing in Grand Junction. “I’m just hoping for the rink to reopen so we can have a solid home season because we didn’t have that last year. Just having fans in the building would mean a lot to us.”
The Demons and Skiers treated their fans to a close affair, entering the final period knotted at 1-1. Glenwood controlled puck possession but couldn’t get set up in the middle of the ice for quality chances.
Cota said his team did well on the boards but didn’t turn it into scoring chances, while Aspen garnered fewer opportunities, but had higher quality. Both of the goals scored on junior netminder Hunter Oger were redirected in front of the net.
“Our defense did good getting their guys out of there, but Aspen is just really good at touching the puck before it gets to me,” Oger said. “I was seeing it great though and our defense was really playing good.”
The Demons’ lone score also came from the low slot as Beck Weatherred deflected a shot from Greyson Alcorta — both freshmen — on the power play.
The loss snapped a short two-game win streak for the Demons against the Skiers going back to last season. The Skiers finished fifth in the league while Glenwood finished third.
“This conference is going to be that way all year: every game is going to be close, is going to be a battle,” Cota said. “It’s going to be guys that have known each other and played with each other and it’s always fun.”
The Aspen High School football team closed out non-league play on Friday night with a 34-21 loss at Steamboat Springs. All of the Skiers’ points came late with the game well out of reach.
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